Little Pink Spoon #6 from The Wheel of Creativity
At 14, I picked up the guitar. Three easy chords to that first song—House of the Rising Sun—moved me. Perhaps it was the vibration of the instrument in my arms. Like my Arabian horses, the guitar was another relationship, between a very limited human girl and the mysterious, uncontrollable force I longed for.
I started to write songs. They were desperate songs, angry songs; but the voices inside me that could not find expression anywhere else, found expression there. The words and music flowed together through me, from somewhere beyond me. I was plugged in. I was free—from the opinions of others, the instruction of experts, and the right and wrong way to do it. The energy flowed to me direct from the source. I was alive.
The more I felt alive, the more I felt angry. It was there in my music. It was there in my attitude. After one particularly memorable blowup with my parents, I feebly tried to take my life. My mother’s solution was a tranquilizer and a trip to see our church pastor. I rejected the first, but consented to the second as I felt safe with this man. I walked the two blocks to his house that night in darkness, inside and out.
He listened to me compassionately and then told me a parable, which went something like this:
“Once upon a time, there was a young goat who lived in a beautiful green garden. He had everything he needed in this garden: plenty of grass to eat, a clear running creek to drink from, and full, mature trees to shade him from the hot sun.
But the goat was obsessed with the fact that there was a wall around this garden. Every day, from dawn till dusk, he spent his hours trying to jump high enough to overcome the wall. Every day he would collapse in the green grass in exhaustion and frustration that he could not surmount this wall, see what lay outside and escape to his freedom.
You are like this goat, Kathie. You can spend your life butting your head up against this wall and miss all that you have right here in the beautiful garden where you live. And it only makes you unhappy.”
On the surface, in our days of present-moment spirituality, the moral of this story rings true. But it did not satisfy me very much. What if we were all contented like this? What worlds would lie undiscovered, what cures still dormant, what problems unsolved?
I went home that night feeling nothing. My heart was numb. I sat in a chair in my room, wrapped in a blanket, knees-to-chest, and didn’t move for hours. I could not think. I could not feel. But in my heart, I knew I was not content to live within those walls and pretend that the world outside did not exist.
Something died in me then; and I spent the next 30 years trying to keep it buried, for the resurrection of it would surely destroy the world I called home. What I didn’t know then is that ash is the most fertile of all soils; and that the ashes of that neat little world would nourish the seeds of a vast new world beyond the walls of my imagination.
Q: When in your life have you seen a new world rise from the ashes of what you have lost? Can you see this as a creative process?
Continued next Monday…
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